Done at the Grocery Store…Now what?

I originally wrote a version of this for IGA and you can read it here: http://igabetterchoices.com/general/home-from-your-local-iga-now-what/

Your food shopping experience doesn’t stop when leave the grocery store. It goes on into the home, where you have to unload the groceries, promptly refrigerate or freeze items that need cold storage, and put away canned and dried goods. But you know how that goes. When you’re busy, tired, or distracted, even the best intentions for maintaining a neat and tidy kitchen go by the wayside, and everything just gets crammed into the cabinet, freezer or fridge while you tell yourself that you can just sort it out later.

Well, no more! Use these five tips to organize yourself and you’ll find your meal prep is faster, your kitchen more efficient, and the entire process is a whole lot more enjoyable!

  1. Put away freezer and refrigerator items first.  Food safety is essential to your health and well-being, so be sure that these items get attention before anything else. Keeping a cooler in the car for hot days can help keep food at proper temperature even before you get home.
  2. Rotate the contents of your fridge. Yes, it’s easier to shove new food in the front and forget about it, but when you do, you run the risk of forgetting about the items that were already in there. Don’t let good food go bad because it got pushed to the back. Move the existing items up to the front before you load your new groceries in so the older items are used first.
  3. Organize your pantry in a way that makes sense to you, either by type of food or by recipe.  Grouping pasta, rice, and other grains together might help you see what options you have for carbs for dinner. Or perhaps you like the idea of your pasta next to your sauce since you’ll likely use them together.  Remember to look at the dates of what is on your shelf and what you brought home so you’re using items wisely.
  4. Be your own prep-cook.  Choose a day when you have some time, and prepare for the week.  Cook rice or pasta ahead for quick stir-fries on busy days. Wash, peel, and chop veggies ahead of time, and cook extra chicken or meat to toss in a casserole or salad the next day.
  5. Get ready for your next shopping experience. Take the time to sit down and think about next week’s meals, including how you might use leftovers like rice and cooked meats in wraps and salads for lunch. Finally, put your reusable bags back in the car so they’re ready for the next trip to the store!

Getting organized is easier than you think! It just takes a little thoughtful planning—and some better choices—and before you know it, everything starts to fall into place.